2001-04-07 / Columnists

From the G-Man by Gary G. Toms

Hey people! I would like to start by saying that this column is dedicated to the late publisher of The Wave, Mr. Leon Locke. I know that right now he is up in heaven laughing his ass off over what I am about to say. Leon, we nailed it!

On April 4, Good Morning America ran a feature involving corruption, mismanagement and fraud within the United States Postal Service. It was an eye-opening piece that exposed many of the topics that I tried to bring to the forefront when I was writing about the Far Rockaway branch. As I noted previously, these conditions are not restricted to the Rockaway peninsula, and it is fast becoming a national epidemic. There are many key people involved, and in the end there are going to be a number of heads placed on the chopping block. They’ll get no sympathy from The G-man.

I cannot claim sole credit for presenting these issues to the community. Mr. John Baxter, a local activist and candidate for City Council, played a tremendous role in helping me to go after those responsible for the horrible conditions that exist with the mail system in Rockaway. In addition to applauding "JB", the postal workers, who spoke out against what was happening in the Far Rockaway branch, should also be congratulated. Every issue they presented on "The John Baxter Show" was confirmed in the report on "GMA". They were dismissed as disgruntled and bitter, but now that the story is gaining strength, people in the community and in Washington, are starting to take them more seriously. It’s about time.

The employees, "JB" and myself took some pretty hard hits from people who did not want to treat this as a serious matter. Our integrity, purpose and character were questioned repeatedly, but we stood our ground. We were telling people all along that this was no joke, and that it was only a matter of time before the crap hit the fan. Now, that congressional hearings have kicked off this week, I can honestly state that I feel vindicated in writing about the story. I’m sure that those employees who took part in the interview, along with John Baxter, share my feelings.

I was a bit surprised when Congressman Gregory Meeks and Congressman Anthony Weiner did not contact me to ask if I would be interested in testifying before the congress. I provided both offices with incriminating documents and photographs that could have proved crucial to the investigative proceedings in Washington. Maybe I should’ve expected that. I was not even kept abreast of what was going on in their respective offices after promising to look into these matters. More often than not, I had to contact them to find out what was being done. I don’t know why this was the case, but I can only assume that it was not treated as seriously as it should have been because I lack certain journalistic credentials and I am not a reporter, per say. I guess the term, concerned resident or community columnist, doesn’t carry enough weight with them. In the end, it doesn’t matter because I came out smelling like a rose, and now people are shaking their heads saying, "We should’ve listened to him." Just like The X-Files, the truth is out there.

I imagine the management within the Far Rockaway branch is really pissed because all this stuff is finally coming out. Sorry, but don’t blame the Black guy! People have been complaining for years, and now some serious questions must be answered. This whole mail "thingy" was a car accident waiting to happen, and through it all, I tried to work with certain people in the postal service to insure that the issues were being addressed. Sadly, I was not well received, and now the proverbial cat is out of the bag.

I hope that communities will benefit from these hearings. Their concerns about the mail system have been ignored long enough. The U.S.P.S. keeps jacking up the prices on stamps and deliveries, but the service is poor all across the country. It’s time for a change, and these hearings are a start in the right direction. Take it from a "first class" columnist.

In closing, I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to the Gilliam and Locke families for their loss. Leon Locke’s mother passed away last week, and she was a wonderfully loving human being. When I had the opportunity to meet her, a few months ago, I was impressed with her wit and charm. Now she can cradle her little boy in her arms once again, and you can bet that Leon loves it.

Delores Gilliam was a dear friend of my family. She struggled with poor health for a number of years, but she fought valiantly until the end. She was of strong will and spirit, and much of that had to do with the fact that she had her loving and devoted son, Jason, to see her through the roughest times. Jason, be proud my brother. You did a damn fine job as a son and as a man. I will miss her tremendously. My prayers go out to the members of both families.

See you next week.

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